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Budget battles

MBJ Editorial

With little hope of the Legislature adopting realistic revenue projections as it prepares the state’s FY 2002 budget, Mississippi teeters on the edge of a historic fiscal crisis.

Legislative leaders have refused to accept the reality of low tax collections. Economic growth will be mild throughout the country this year, and business, industry, families and individuals are adjusting spending plans accordingly.

The Mississippi Legislature is not.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has taken legislators to task for their failure to make cuts in spending and to budget wisely. Clearly, the governor will be forced to make across-the-board cuts in state spending, including personnel, when the money runs short. It won’t help Musgrove win any popularity contests when the cutting commences.

Whether you like Ronnie Musgrove or not, this fiscal mess and any future cuts are the doing of our legislators. Their appropriations are based on faulty numbers, and their backup plan to use reserve funds and to dip into the state’s rainy-day money are, at best, unwise and nothing more than a short-term answer to a situation that demands a long-term solution.

Quite simply, our legislative leadership is abdicating its responsibility and doing what it thinks is politically expedient. We can’t let them get away with that.

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